Six days ago, I woke up feeling pretty gross.
It felt like I was "trying" to get sick. You know that feeling? You're "off". Your stomach isn't awesome. Your head hurts. That kind of feeling.
It wasn't the first time I woke up that way but I have determined that it has to be my last.
I don't smoke and I don't drink soda. I rarely drink alcohol. These, one would think, are enough to give a license to enjoy life's other things but, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I had more to do to make myself live in full health.
Wait! Don't go! Stick with me, here... Hear me out.
I have a terrible sweet tooth. It's awful. Really. Candy bars. Snack cakes. If it was something like that, I probably loved it. I'm not a particularly heavy girl but I could see that starting to be affected, too. I talked with nutritionists and watched a lecture by Dr. Robert Lustig called "sugar is poison" and realized I needed to do something "drastic". I dumped the sugars and processed sweets. I threw out anything with High Fructose Corn Syrup. I decided to go straight whole foods / plant based diet like the doctors in Forks over Knives recommended.
- My once-debilitating hot flashes numbering over one dozen per day have gone down to about 5 minor annoying instances. They used to start with severe nausea and then my heart would palpitate and race to a point that it was frightening - all before the severe heat and sweating came in. Now? Now the are a bearable annoyance and much fewer and farther between.
- My nightly cries and lack of sleep from leg pain - a side effect of the 2nd half of chemo that has stuck around for the 3 years since - has all but disappeared. That's saying a lot since I'm a hairdresser and on my feet at work all day.
- My sleep is stronger and more consistent - Bye, bye insomnia!
- I've lost almost 5 pounds - not that I'm trying to diet but it's a great bonus
- My stomach and digestive system are happier - The constant stomach upset and pain are gone and, of course, you become quite a *ahem* regular machine which is good because you don't want gross stuff in your body - you want it out!
- I feel "normal" - Not lethargic... not tired and run down. I feel - well - good! Great actually!
- My mornings have gotten a lot easier - I used to wake up in a state that would scare grown men. Grumpy and fighting my way to coffee just to speak. I've seen a massive change there. I wake up easier and without that desire to punch anyone between me and the coffee maker.
- I'm happier - I don't feel grumpy or morose. I'm so much more pleasant and peaceful in my soul. I can see that I'm a much nicer person to be around now. (diet and mood are related, btw)
Yet, even with all of those good things happening in just under one week's time - with just some discipline and diligence - there are many who have messaged me and done their best to belittle this change.
"What about bacon?!" - "You're not getting enough protein. You can't be living healthy with just plants" - "Does this mean we can't go out to places anymore?" - "Ugh, you're one of THOSE people?"
Maybe it's just because their patterns are so deeply seeded that they don't want to acknowledge the truth that they know what they're doing to themselves. I don't know. Whatever it is, people sure do like to get in your kitchen more often than not.
Whatever the cause - trust me on this one, very important fact: My plant diet yields plenty of protein without all of the fat, hormones and other crap.
Is it easy? Of course it's not. Any major lifestyle change requires work - especially when inundated with a barrage of "eat this! Look at this cake! It's the holidays!" insanity. Some of your biggest challenges will be in convincing friends and family members that this is really okay... that the dietary life we're believed to live with in this country is actually NOT good for you and your new change does provide adequate (superior, actually) nutritional value.
People get really riled up when you say you don't eat meat or drink alcohol.
I think that because those things are socially expected behaviors. Not doing them confuses the masses.
As far as my sweet tooth goes, I can say that the first couple of days without them was a challenge. I was really sleepy and napped a lot. I felt really run down. Once talking with a plant nutrition specialist, I realized that the sleepy feeling was because my body was relearning how to process energy the right way. It used to run on bursts throughout the day supplied by Snickers, Starbucks and other fake energy providers. Now I'm absolutely beginning to process everything the right way and the sustained energy and happiness is much more wonderful to live with than the previous habit. This energy feels more natural.. it feels consistent and clean.
It's like my body was switching from unleaded to wind energy.
Why, yes I do. Actually, my taste buds are changing already. Since I'm not getting the processed, sugary substances, fruits are tasting sweeter to me. I had an apple, yesterday, and it - I kid you not - was sweet like candy to me. Also, I found these Natural Delights at Sprouts that are only made of dates and rolled in coconut. That's it. Dates and coconut. Complete whole food yet is super sweet to me. I can have one of their little nuggets of goodness and it blows me away on how sweet and delightful they are.
So - yeah - I'm getting to enjoy good things. The difference is that I'm making them the right good things.
Now, I'm not writing this blog to shame you or judge your life. You do what you want with your body. That's your choice.
I'm sharing my own experience in the hopes that, if you're feeling bad and gross and sick then, maybe, this blog can help you find the resources or encouragement to change a way of life for the better.
Then again, you could call me "crazy" and go about your business. That's fine, too. I just know that the evidence, science and (now) personal experiences are real and something worth thinking about.
To a healthier 2016 and beyond!